|Born||14 February 1942|
Mexico City, Mexico
|Died||1 November 1962 (aged 20)|
Mexico City, Mexico
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Entries||6 (5 starts)|
|First entry||1961 Italian Grand Prix|
|Last entry||1962 Italian Grand Prix|
|24 Hours of Le Mans career|
SpA Ferrari SEFAC
|Best finish||2nd (1960)|
Ricardo Valentín Rodríguez de la Vega (14 February 1942 – 1 November 1962) was a Mexican racing driver who competed in the 1961 and 1962 Formula One seasons. He was the first Mexican driver ever to take part in a Formula One Grand Prix, and at the age of 19 years and 208 days, when first racing for Ferrari at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix, he became the youngest Formula One driver to race for the legendary Italian team, a title he still holds today. At this Italian Grand Prix, he also became the youngest driver to start a Formula One race until the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix, and the youngest driver to start from the first row until the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix, and at the 1962 Belgian Grand Prix he also became the youngest driver to score points in Formula One, a record he held until the 2000 Brazilian Grand Prix. His death at the age of 20 in 1962 made him the youngest Formula One driver to die.
His elder brother, Pedro, was also a noted racing driver who had much success in both sports car racing and Formula One, including a season with Ferrari in 1969, who was also fatally injured in a racing accident.
Rodríguez was born in Mexico City and was a child cycling champion who switched to motorcycles in domestic competition from the age of 11. He was the third son from the marriage of Pedro Natalio Rodríguez and Concepción "Conchita" (née de la Vega), he had three brothers and one sister, Pedro, Federico, Conchita and Alejandro.
He won several national motorcycle titles, before taking up saloon car racing in his own Fiat Topolino. In 1957 he made his international debut at Riverside, beating all comers in the under 1.5 litre class in a Porsche RS. He then won his class in a Porsche Spyder in the Nassau Tourist Trophy. He often raced for the North American Racing Team (NART) with his brother Pedro, although he would also enter cars under his own team's name, Scuderia Rodríguez.
He was refused an entry at Le Mans in 1958 because he was too young (16 years and 106 days), but went back in 1959 to race an OSCA in the 750cc class. In the edition of 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1960 he partnered André Pilette to second place. At 18 years and 133 days of age, he is the youngest driver ever to stand on the podium at Le Mans.
Rodríguez was given a guest drive by Ferrari for the 1961 Italian Grand Prix, qualifying a surprise second and becoming the youngest driver in history to start from front row (19 years and 208 days), a record that would not be beaten until the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix by Max Verstappen. In the race he exchanged the lead with Phil Hill and Richie Ginther many times, until a fuel pump failure ended his race. 1962 saw a full works drive with Ferrari, who used him sparingly considering his age and rough edges. Whenever used, Rodríguez shone, taking second at the Pau Grand Prix, fourth at the Belgian Grand Prix and sixth at the German Grand Prix in a tough year in Formula One for Ferrari. He also won the 1962 Targa Florio edition with Olivier Gendebien and Willy Mairesse in a Ferrari 246 SP.
Rodríguez was considered a potential future champion already, but was left without a drive when Ferrari opted not to enter the non-Championship 1962 Mexican Grand Prix at the Magdalena Mixiuhca Circuit, Mexico City. He signed to drive Rob Walker's Lotus 24, but died during the first day of unofficial practice, when the Lotus' rear right suspension failed at the fearsome Peraltada turn, and it hit the barriers, killing him instantaneously. He was 20 years old and his death provoked national mourning in Mexico.
The Scuderia Rodríguez A.C. (a friends and family foundation) keeps his memory and that of his brother alive. It serves as register for Rodríguez memorabilia and cars, certifying them, and its Secretary General Carlos Jalife published their biography in 2006, and a second edition came in 2015. He did an English translation that was published in 2009 and won the Motor Press Guild Book of the Year.
Complete Formula One World Championship results
|1961||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari 156||Ferrari V6||MON||NED||BEL||FRA||GBR||GER||ITA
|1962||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari 156||Ferrari V6||NED
Formula One non-championship results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
|1962||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari 156||Ferrari V6||CAP||BRX||LOM||LAV||GLV||PAU
|Rob Walker Racing Team||Lotus 24||Climax V8||MEX
Ricardo Rodríguez in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
|1958||North American Racing Team||25||Ferrari 500 TR58||S 2.0||José Behra||–||–||Did not start*|
|Ferrari 2.0 L4||–|
|1959||OSCA Automobili||51||OSCA Sport 750TN||S 750||Pedro Rodríguez||11°||32||Retire|
|OSCA 0.7L L4||5h|
|1960||North American Racing Team||17||Ferrari 250 TRI/59||S 3.0||André Pilette||9°||310||2nd|
|Ferrari 3.0L V12||24h|
|1961||North American Racing Team||17||Ferrari 250 TRI/61||S 3.0||Pedro Rodríguez||2°||305||Retire|
|Ferrari 3.0L V12||23h|
|1962||SpA Ferrari SEFAC||28||Ferrari Ferrari 246 SP||E 3.0||Pedro Rodríguez||32°||174||Retire|
|Ferrari 2.4L V6||13h|
- On 1958 24 Hours of Le Mans judged to be too young, 16-year-old Ricardo Rodríguez was not allowed to start by the organisers, Automobile Club de l'Ouest, so was replaced by José Behra, brother of Jean, to accompany his older brother, Pedro Rodríguez.
- Jenkins, Richard. "The World Championship drivers – Where are they now?". OldRacingCars.com. Retrieved 29 July 2007.
- "Passed away". StatsF1. Retrieved 4 February 2023.
- Jo Ramírez: Mi vida en Fórmula Uno, book, page 34
- Book: Los Hermanos Rodríguez. 2006, page 181
- "Book Review: 'The Brothers Rodríguez'".
- http://www.sportscars.tv/Newsfiles/lemans58.html[permanent dead link]
- Brothers Rodríguez book by Carlos Eduardo Jalife-Villalón, March 2009